Artist Profile: Logan
Heather Campbell turns life into art
Heather Campbell’s art explores life experience. Melding polymer clay with a variety of found objects, she creates elaborate narrative pieces that speak to experiences both personal and universal. Her own story begins in Taylorsville, Utah, where she grew up in a home surrounded by art. “I’ve been doing art in some form or another since I was I child,” Campbell says. Her mother was a watercolorist and a ceramicist who often took her to the local craft store or to ceramics classes, where Campbell developed a fondness for clay. Around the holidays, her mother used her skills as a painter to decorate the windows for Halloween or to turn Christmas cookies into individual pieces of art. “She was all about beauty, art, and music,” Campbell says.
In ninth grade, Campbell took her first jewelry-making class and discovered she loved the craft. When she continued to college at Brigham Young University (BYU), she explored ceramics and pottery. Her creative pursuits later led her to open a dried flower shop called “Honeysuckle and Ivy” in West Jordan’s Gardner Village. Campbell specialized in floral design and she ran the store for nine years, during a time when she was recovering from a painful divorce. “Our family was very close, and that’s what pulled me through, was this little business,” she says.
Artist Spotlights: Provo
Utah Faux Naïve
A conversation with Andrew Ballstaedt, Fidalis Buehler & Brian Kershisnik
Maybe “faux-naïve” art is nothing more than what you’d imagine: simple, modest works by trained artists who choose to draw and paint in a seemingly juvenile manner despite their higher education in the Arts. But maybe there’s something more to this art tradition; maybe there are greater reasons for its emerging momentum in the contemporary art scene other than an ever-present irony or a giggle-factor. Because of its consciously contrived nature, some contend that faux-naïve is borderline-kitsch, insincere and premeditated art, but the works of Andrew Ballstaedt, Fidalis Buehler, and Brian Kershisnik—three of Utah’s finest folk artists making a name for themselves as American contemporary faux-naïvists—show the positive side of contrivance, that faux-naïve can provoke feelings of nostalgia and insight into real emotions, focusing our attention on adolescent memories or spiritual innocence alluded to in their works rather than on the lack of complexity, precision, or realism often sought after by aficionados of conventional, believable art.
Exhibition Review: Provo
We Can Be Heroes
Supermen and Monsters invade BYU's MOA
The first thing you notice when driving up to Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art is the long neck of the Loch Ness Monster emerging from within the flower bed. In fact, seeing such an apparition made me laugh, out loud, with both delight and excitement, giddy as I was to see curator Jeff Lambson’s much anticipated We Could be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art, which runs through April 6th. Giddy because BYU consistently brings a professional caliber to their exhibitions in ways that very few institutions in Utah are able to do. We Could Be Heroes is no exception. In the breadth, research and excellent educational resources, it rivals exhibits at some of our nation’s finest institutions.
The title boldly declares: We Could Be Heroes. But what is a hero and what are the monsters they face? And, perhaps more importantly, why is this seemingly playful and childish topic relevant beyond comic books and action figures? Well, in fact, our society, and many others before it, has a long obsession with heroic myths: think of the Greek Hercules, the Sumerian Gilgamesh, England’s King Arthur, and George Lucas’s Luke Skywalker, to name a few.
Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell both believed that every culture, in every place and time, will compulsively rehash certain myths and symbols. Among those continually reprised throughout the ages is the ‘hero's journey. Like Jung and Campbell, Ben Saunders, professor of literature at Oregon State, explores the mythology of heroes. His words, in fact, begin the exhibition: “the dream of the superhero is not just a dream of flying, not just a dream about men and women who wield the power of the gods. It’s also a dream about men and women who never give up the struggle to be good.”
But rather than just celebrate these figures without critique, the exhibition explores, as Lambson explains, “the complexity of the myth of the hero, the hero’s relationship to the monster, [and] how a monster or hero is defined by perception.” This is done through four central themes: Heroes, Monsters, Violence and Mythology. The exhibition is staged in such a way that you can turn left and face the monsters first or turn right and navigate through heroic figures. Guided by Lambson, I turned right.